The gaping maw called politics

By my estimation, about 170 non-politicians lost their jobs on Wednesday: about 50 people employed in the office of former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and around 20 in each of the six ministers who resigned on the spot in solidarity with her.

That’s not counting those who will be unemployed on election day as a result of their bosses deciding not to contest the 2013 federal election.

Little thought is given to these people when matters of high-octane politics occur.

Admittedly, anyone who works for a politician knows that you only last as long as your boss. The Damoclean threat of impermanence is one of the perks of the job, along with 14 hour days and low rates of pay. But even so, the mortgage looks ever so much more daunting when the votes don’t swing your boss’s way in the party room or on polling day.

Only a few staffers keep their jobs when elections are lost, party leaders are changed, or portfolios are shuffled. Room can be made for the few with high profiles and excellent reputations, either in party headquarters, state MPs’ offices or in the government affairs sections of sympathetic corporates or NGOs.

The rest have to face the job market, labelled with having worked for the losing side.

In the months to come between now and the federal election, and with the outcome of the election slightly less certain than it was a week ago, these freshly minted unemployed will be faced with prospective employers unwilling to take a chance on them. Departmental recruiters, lobby groups and corporates will all worry about the potential repercussions arising from employing any of the Gillard camp’s walking dead. And many will not be prepared to take that chance.

Politics is like that. It chews up, spits out and moves on with nary a glance back.

Tis the nature of the political beast.